Between his account of the empires of the Babylonians and the Medes, and that of the Persians, Newton inserts ‘A Description of the Temple of Solomon’, offering no further justification than the observation that, since the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, a description ‘may not be thought amiss’ (p. 332). In fact he adds little to the subject, but his interest is worth acknowledging, if for no other reason, than to illustrate the currency of such questions even among some of the leading mathematicians of the seventeenth century.
The cubit Newton adopts is the ‘sacred cubit’, one of the alternatives familiar to the different writers on the Temple. It was longer than the common cubit by a hand’s breadth, and Newton takes its length as between 21½ and 22 English inches. He gives a rather matter-of-fact description, while his principal source is Ezekiel’s vision recorded in Hebrew and in Greek, working from the contemporary Hebrew and the Septuagint. His three engraved plates are in plan only and one includes a scale of sacred cubits.